VMware's northern Europe boss David Parry-Jones is speaking up for women in the channel with a LinkedIn initiative aimed at raising awareness of the privileges he believes men are afforded in the workplace, and the issues women face.
Parry-Jones recently attended an educational session run by Men Advocating Real Change, during which the men in the session were asked to read out 55 "male privilege" statements, designed to get them thinking about how they are treated differently to women in the workplace.
The statements had such an effect on Parry-Jones that he has decided to publish one per day on his LinkedIn page to raise awareness in a bid to prompt change. So far he is 11 days into his mission (see statements below).
He told CRN that up until a few years ago, he was less of an advocate of 'women in the channel' as a wider cause, having had a number of strong female role models in the STEM sector such as his mother, sister and wife, who had managed to do very well in their careers.
But he said this has all changed.
"About two or three years ago I suddenly realised 'there is an issue here and I am not seeing it'. I was blindsided because of my upbringing," he said. "If I didn't have a sister or a working mother, a working wife and a daughter, I would have a very, very different perspective on things. That, in isolation, was explicitly demonstrated to me [during the training session].
"The bits that really hit me hard were: one - they make you walk across a room if you've ever experienced certain things. That was kind of interesting because you sit watching people you know go across the room and you think 'wow'. The other thing was they made the men read out these 55 privilege statements one at a time and as you read them, you think 'I have never experienced them'.
"The real coup de gras was when they got the women to sit in the group and asked them to chat about the challenges they have at work. It was massively eye-opening because we were going 'really?', and also 'at VMware?' The answer was, well, yes. That was quite scary for all of us."
According to CRN research into women in the channel, just four resellers of the top 100 (Top VARs) are run by women, and less than 14 per cent of the top 100's senior leadership team are female.
During CRN's Women in the Channel project last year, numerous women came forward to talk about the issues women face in the workplace, but only a few men were forthcoming with their own views.
When CRN put this to Parry-Jones, and asked why men might be reluctant to discuss the issue openly, he said that many men feel that they could put their foot in it if they say the wrong thing.
"Obviously, you've got to be careful what you open from a can of worms perspective - you can get yourself in trouble," he said. "Men struggle to empathise and how to articulate how they empathise."
"Male privilege" statements posted by Parry-Jones on LinkedIn so far.
"I readily see others of my gender in key leadership roles of all business functions, rather than clustered in just a few, often typically thought of as female roles, (such as HR, communications, finance, or legal)."
"If I have an argument with a woman, I have a better chance at being seen as 'reasonable' in our culture."
"If I am heterosexual, my sexual partner is expected to take more responsibility for birth control."
"My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against only women applicants, are probably skewed in my favour. The more prestigious the job, the better the odds of my being hired."
"I don't have to expend much time or energy to ensure my travel arrangements help me avoid the threat of rape or sexual violence due to my gender."
"I don't have to deal with the debilitating effects or distractions caused by hot flushes during a critical business meeting or presentation."
"If I have low credibility as a leader, I can rest assured that my gender is not the problem."
"I can talk about gender equity without being seen as self- interested or self-seeking."
"My weight, hairstyle, and fashion sense don't negatively impact how my competence or work is valued."
"More often than not I can count on someone else taking care of my children and their needs."
"I can more freely pursue my career without being accused of, or often feeling that, I am abandoning my family."
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